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  CSPAN    Politics Public Policy Today    News/Business.  

    April 22, 2013
    8:00 - 8:59pm EDT  

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debate. >> are seeing the boston suspects should be treated as an enemy combatants. is that something you are looking at? >> he will not be treated as an enemy combatants. we will prosecute him through our civilian system. united states citizens cannot be tried in military commissions. it is important to remember that since 9/11 we had used the court system to convict hundreds of skirts, and has resulted in the detention of u.s. citizens and non-citizens for acts of terrorism committed around the world. this system has proven it can successfully handle a threat we face. there are a number of examples.
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the time square bomber, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. i abdulmutallab was sentenced to life in prison. has closeational who associations with al qaeda is not currently in this system. we have acquired by able intelligence from him to the process that is allowed in the system. so this is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go. and when it comes to united states citizens, it is against the law to try them in military commissions. >> does the president believe that there is a system in place to adequately target and deal with lone operators, those who may not be tied to some kind of larger extremist organization? >> you have heard the president and many others address the evolving threats that we have as a nation. as we have taken the fight to
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al qaeda and have met with significant progress in removing from the battlefield senior members of al qaeda central, we have seen other threats develop and emerge. and john brennan, the president, many others, the attorney general have spoken about those threats. i would not in any way characterize the suspects in this investigation in any way with regards to that question because that is something that is being determined by investigators and prosecutors. but there is no question that the threat remains. qaedaains from al central, even though it's been decimated. it remains from affiliates of al qaeda, as we've talked about -- aqap and the like. and it remains within the context of your question, self- radicalized actors, individual actors who pose a threat. inhave to remain vigilant the face of all those threats. and the president, of course,
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expects our various agencies within the national security apparatus to do just that. ani want to follow up on earlier question about whether or not the president feels like law enforcement, the fbi, adequately dealt with this issue back in 2011. during his briefings, has he been asking specific questions about what law enforcement knew and is he comfortable with the answers that he's getting? >> without getting into specifics of the meetings he has had, he has been thoroughly briefed and has asked a host of questions, as you would expect. and what i can tell you is that the fbi -- as the fbi itself has said -- thoroughly investigated the information that it had received in 2011. u.s.included checking government databases and other information to look for such things as derogatory telephone communications, possible use of online sites associated with the promotion of radical activity, associations with
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other persons of interest, travel history and plans, and education history. and the fbi, as you know, interviewed tamerlan tsarnaev and family members and at the time did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign. as part of the overall investigation into these two individuals, into the bombings in boston and obviously the events later in watertown, there will be a whole picture i think put together to find out exactly what led to these bombings, the motivations that were behind them, any associations that may have existed if they did. process is part of the that's being undertaken now, now that these suspects -- one is obviously deceased and one is in custody -- there is a process underway to thoroughly investigate the whole matter. >> and as that picture is being painted and put together at this stage, is there any indication at all that, looking back on it now, there are some things that pointed to what
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happened? >> well, i would point you to the statement the fbi made and that i just repeated, which is, looking back on it now at this time, the fbi did thoroughly investigate this matter when it received information from a foreign government and went through the process that i just described. all of this obviously will be part of an investigation into an ongoing matter, and that is the investigation and prosecution of the suspect in custody. jon. >> jay, i've got two things. first, a quick follow on immigration. senator rand paul is saying at the very least that the process should be slowed down. we understand what happened in boston. and he wrote a letter saying, "why did the current system allow two individuals to immigrate to the united states from the chechen republic in russia, an area known as a hotbed of extremism, who then committed acts of terrorism? were there any safeguards? could this have been prevented?" my question: do you think rand paul has a point at
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all, that what happened in boston reflects something wrong with the current system of immigration that should cause us to slow down a little bit and figure it out? >> we believe that we need to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform for a whole host of reasons and the benefits that reform will provide to our country, to our economy, to our security. and we agree with those coauthors of the legislation in the senate who have made the point in recent days that enhancing our security is one of the reasons why we should press forward with comprehensive immigration reform. speculation about this particular matter is fine, but this is under investigation. the fact is that comprehensive immigration reform, as anybody who has looked into it and can attest, would enhance our security for all the reasons that i talked about at the top. >> okay. -- i'll ask about the faa graham says he
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disagrees with the obama administration's decision not to prosecute the suspect as an enemy combat it. >> i understand we will have a moment of silence for the victims in boston. that is appropriate, and the president is right to lead that effort. quickly, to the families who have lost loved ones, to those breaks as a nation. to the people of boston, you make us proud by the courage you have shown. to the law enforcement officials and intelligence community, god bless you for your hard work and your bravery. iat brings me here today is have been informed that the
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obama administration has indicated this suspect in boston will not be treated as an enemy combatant. i strongly disagree with the obama administration's decision to rule out the combatant status for the suspect at this time. i believe such a decision is premature. it is impossible for us to gather the evidence in just a few days to determine whether or not this individual should be held for questioning under the law of war. the decision by the administration to try this individual in federal court is a sound decision. it is the right decision. aretary commission trials not available in cases like this. i wrote the 2009 military commission act. i have been a judge advocate for over 30 years, along with the help of many colleagues. we created a system for foreign terrorists.
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we purposely excluded american citizens. i have all the confidence in the world in article 3 courts at the federal level. they do a terrific job. i have confidence in our military commissions system. the decision by the administration not to proceed in state court in massachusetts i think was the correct decision. the death penalty will be available at the federal level. this is clearly in my view a candidate for a case to be deemed an act of terrorism. here is my concern. as a lawyer for over 30 years, i strongly support the concept that no criminal defendant should ever be required to incriminate themselves why they are in custody. that is a long-held tradition in american jurisprudence, in a military and civilian setting. no criminal defendant should ever be required to incriminate themselves in a criminal case.
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every nation at war should have the ability to defend themselves by gathering intelligence. these are not mutually exclusive concepts. i believe our nation is at war. the enemy is radical islam, defined as taliban, al qaeda, and affiliated groups. thereestion i have, is any association between these two individuals and groups i just named to allow any combatant status? it is inappropriate ask questions of any defendant accused to elicit information to use against them in court. there is ample evidence here on the criminal side.
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a first-year law student could prosecute this case. what i am worried about is what does this individual know about future attacks or terrorist organizations that may be in our midst? we have the right to gather intelligence under the criminal system. we should not question someone without their lawyer present. along the law of armed conflicts, when you try to gather intelligence about future attacks, there's no requirement for a lawyer. it would disturb me greatly if this administration is relying exclusively on the criminal justice system to gather intelligence. if we have to clear the questions that we're going to ask to gather intelligence, to the terror suspect's lawyer, it would greatly diminish our ability to control the process. the last thing i want to do is turn intelligence gathering over to the suspects and their lawyers. i hope the administration will look long and hard at the evidence and keep on the table
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the ability to interrogate the suspect for the intelligence gathering purposes against attacks we may face. none of the evidence on the intel side can be used in a criminal court. we're not prosecuting a crime. we're trying to protect the nation. intelligence gathering is a national security endeavor. prosecuting someone in federal court is a criminal enterprise. over the coming days and weeks we will have discussions about how best to defend our nation. the best way we can defend america is to realize we are at war. we did not choose this war. we did not want this war. it has come to our shores twice. how can we defend ourselves against a vicious enemy who is recruiting american citizens to their cost in our own backyard? to fight the war within our values and our legal structure?
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we provide lawyers. al qaeda it does not. that makes us stronger, not weaker. we have the ability under the law of war to gather intelligence in a way to make sure that our country is safe from a future attacks. the ability to talk to individuals who may know about terrorist organizations plotting our future device is a long held concept. long-heldis a concept. i am asking this administration to leave on the table the option if the evidence warrants to designate this individual as an enemy combatant. what do we know? we know these two individuals embraced radical islamic thought, that there is ample evidence this was an attack inspired by radical ideology. they were not trying to rob a bank in boston. they slaughtered innocent people because they view us, the united states, as a colonial
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power, a christian nation. at the muslim world can be friend. i have traveled out the world and have that many people throughout the world of the islamic faith in our great allies and great friends of america. unfortunately, there is a small minority who would kill every muslim, jewish, gentile, christian, person who disagrees with them. it is imperative we protect the homeland. the desire of this enemy is to strike us in our backyard. i do not wish america to be the battlefield, but it is. it is the choosing of our enemy to make our homeland the battlefield. all i ask is within our values and our legal system we retain the right to defend ourselves, withalues i embrace interrogation and under the law
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of order, not torture. i along with senator mccain spoke loudly during the bush years about interrogation techniques that i thought were out of bounds in terms of our law and who we are. but let me firmly say this. having been a military lawyer for 30 years, i know the difference between prosecuting crime and trying to prevent a future attack. the ability to have access to this suspect without a lawyer present to gather intelligence about a future attack is absolutely is central to our national security. if over time, the evidence suggests after a reasonable opportunity to make this decision this suspect is not fall into the statutory definition of an enemy combatants, i will accept that result. i think to rule that decision out now is premature and is
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unfair to those who are trying to protect us. i do not know how in the world we can make that decision by monday afternoon, given the recent nature of this attack. i will continue to work with the administration to create laws allows us to create tools to defend ourselves against these enemies. on march 25, i wrote all our military lawyers, asking 15 questions. and if you can read those questions. i will not bore you. asked questions that applied to what happened today. i have seen this coming for a long time. i have taken the floor on multiple occasions of the united states senate to prepare our nation for the state. this day has finally arrived. the day when the evidence suggests that the teeth of the
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zero people, one an american citizen, the other in legal status, took up arms against our country. the evidence right now to me is ample and overwhelming to suggest that the attacks in boston were inspired by radical jihadists. i do not want to jeopardize any one bus ride to a fair trial. the defenders who will be assigned to this case should defend this young man. by doing so, they make us all safe. having said that, it is imperative that we have time with the suspect got to prove his guilt or innocence, there is absent -- ample evidence of that, but together intelligence as to what he may know about terrorist organizations that exist or others who may be planning to attack our country. i hope congress will look at
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this case and look at our laws and come to the conclusion that i have come to -- we are at war, we're going to be at war for a very long time coming and we have to have the tools to defend ourselves. one of those tools is the ability to question people about future attacks to gather intelligence for national security purposes without benefit of counsel. the information will never be used in a court of law against the suspect. it will be used to protect us. and the last thing in the world we should do in the times in which we live is to limit our ability to gather intelligence in the criminal justice system, because in essence you have in turn over the intelligence- gathering process to the queues and their lawyers. thank you very much. can still buy
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again. >> anyone who is on the terrorist watch list should not lose their second amendment right without the ability to challenge that determination. i think senator kennedy was on the terrorist watch list. there have been people, on the watch list. i do not want to make that the basis to take someone's second amendment rights of way, but what i would suggest is if you come up on the terrorist watch list you have the ability to say you are not a terrorist. that is the proper way. as to the enemy combat terrorism -- comtatant the government is required to prove that the person is an enemy combat it. no one is owithout due process. to governor -- government as
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prove this statutory elements of the crime charge. one system designed to bring justice, to bring justice to a cameral act, the other system is to protect us against future terrorist activity. they both in my view exist in harmony in our law. i would urge the obama administration to use both systems. >> [indiscernible] i spoke 45 minutes last night with the associate director of the fbi. i think all of us are wondering if the russians told us about this guy being a radical islamist into does 11, how could we have missed it? according to the fbi, they said the report -- they took the report from the russians seriously. they interviewed the suspects themselves, the family members, and school officials. they put his name to the system and found no evidence of
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domestic violence. they sent a report to the russians and said, do you have any more? they never got a reply. he went to russia. how could we not know that? apparently, the misspelling of his name was such that he did not pop up in the system. did he intentionally misspelled tis name, or did the aerofloo just get it wrong? we do not know. let's assume the fbi made a diligent effort to make an investigation based on the russian information. ankly, they did. miss all we from 2012 the radical statements and activity this guy engaged in, the older brother, on the internet and youtube videos? the fbi which is telling me that some of the tools they need are not there. is this a question of the fbi
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not using the tools available to them or is this a question there are not enough tools and a toolbox? we need to learn that. i am worried about how misspelling affected that. >> [indiscernible] >> it is the second time. the underwear bomber was mirandize within 45 minutes. i do not care if you read them their rights. do not just shut down the intelligence test gathering -- intelligence-gathering process. the only way he cooperated was his family. he hadmes square bomber, pakistan-taliban ties. he was read his rights and never designated an enemy combatant. osama bin laden's son and law is in federal court -- the federal system today, was read his
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miranda rights. he has never been designated. can you imagine what a sum of bin laden's son in law can tell us about the terrorist organization put he was the spokesman after 9/11. there is a disturbing pattern of not gathering intelligence when that opportunity exists. they care very much. i have to go. we will go next door to answer any questions that you have about the act by and we are going to observe a moment of silence for the folks in boston. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> stakeholders testified on capitol hill on the immigration bill. john mccain, chuck schumer, dick durbin, lindsey graham, robert
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menendez, marker rubio, jeff flake, and michael bennett are the architects of the legislation. >> about the problems with the program, and i am happy we will find a way with this improved program to make this work better. sometimes the alphabet soup of immigration programs and the endless rules can get confusing. can one of you explain what you see as the biggest problems which the program as is, and whether you think the bill addresses these problems? >> moore time is short so i will take off a few. the wage rates that are part of the program. will is strictly an at- program that provides no value for year-round workers is no use to the dairy industry at all, and i would say in administrative bureaucracy of
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the program, small with hoosiers do not have the ability to hire consultants to navigate their way through an application process. >> that is for sure. can someone explain why it is important to have the ag department oversee the guest worker program instead of the labor department? >> i will try that. a couple of different ways to answer that. there is a structure already in place for not only state-level usda offices, but there is a virtual usda presence in every county in america, every major agricultural county. these are officers that producers deal with bright -- quite often. there are people in this offices that are not only used to helping the producers, but help them navigate to the process. we believe producers will be quick to use that system that is
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well established out there today. >> i thought one of the most important parts was when you talk about the indirect benefits of the guest workers, the fact when they are here we have some kind of status that works, said they will buy things. sometimes they ship them back, whether motorcycles and washing machines, you name it. you mentioned the impact for rural areas. could you talk more about these indirect impacts you have seen in your communities? >> thank you. one of the best times i have is at the end of harvest we. a truck has its set route, and it is run by a travel service, and it is great because when i get a listing where it is going to go, the workers know before i do. motorcycles, weed
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whackers, walked -- washing machines, and it is shipped back because they tell us is cheaper for them to ship at home. paying $200somebody for a canoe and then paying $200 to send a ton. a lot of the money is spent locally as well. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. senator lee is next. please go ahead. >> thank you for joining us today. i have a couple of questions. i recognize the labor problems facing our agricultural industry are different from those in other industries and are important our nation's economy. the nature of agricultural work can deter the hardest-working americans. the long, sporadic hours,
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secluded work sites, nominal wages, and the back breaking physical labor contribute to a relative lack of interested and participation in these jobs by american-born workers. creating a sustainable guest worker bees that is the central for creating our farms and ranches that is why i introduced the dash act, to expand access to the h-2a for additional category of workers and employers. addressing problems for agricultural workers and lawyers must be any part of esa reform. i am glad that we are having this discussion this morning. i am wondering if i could start with the eastman. could you tell us a little bit -- sort of restate why you think the h-2a is insufficient, particularly as it relates to some of these industries like harry farming and sheep herding? >> i can't speak to sheep
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herding because i have not had direct access with sheep. as far as the dairy farming goes, it is impossible. we have two very farms who have have h- farms that do 2a, but they are there to repair things and to work inquiries that will be used as pasture. it is not related to milking cows, which is simply an everyday function, at these farms. in part, it is not available -- >> explain to us why it is not. >> because right now h-2a is limited to 10 months seasonal. if you are an employer -- that is limited to the employer. the employee can stay longer than that, but they have to transfer.
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so, one individual employer can only have h-2a workers on site for 10 months out of the year. >> what does not work for some of the areas? >> it is not based on a fiscal year -- you take apples, they come in, it is august, and they stay to pick, prune and packed -- they have to be gone by the end of may. >> in this bill, in your opinion, it addresses the problem? >> it fixes the problem because i think actually, mr. connor can speak to a better, the different types of -- >> mr. connor? >> it fixes the problem fundamentally by creating two different groups of the guestworker program. one would be the seasonal at will, which would be, i suppose, the most similar to the current h-2a program, but the other is a contract program where, again, you would have the ability to bring in year-round workers on a contract, as you noted, to
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perform those milking functions, feeding functions on the farm, those kind of things, as noted earlier, the cows don't stop producing milk. they produce 24/seven, every day of the year. >> that is the nice thing about cows, they are considerate in that regard. do you see this as a long-term fix, or something you have to tinker with every few years? >> no question, senator, we picture this as a long-term fix. this was fundamental to our coalition's efforts. we were not looking to come back and do this in a few years, because we know it is not going to happen. this has been a problem that has been developing really since the mid-1980s, and we believe that the combination of the loot card program for our trained existing workforce and the viable guestworker program both at will and contract administered by usda provides a long-term access to the workforce among the legal workforce that you are going to need to continue to produce the crops in the food for america.
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>> can you tell me how the caps were, on the number available? >> there is a cap on the visa workers. year one, set at 112,333. as you can note by some of the numbers, this was a product of a lot of negotiation and compromise by both sides in terms of setting the cap. another 112,000 would be year two and three the muscle by year three, the cap would be 337,000 workers. in no event cannot go above that years three and five, but then from year five onward, there would be no cap. the secretary of agriculture would be empowered then to set the cap based on the need of the number of guest workers in the country.
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>> that is why you see this as a long-term fix, because you are then allowing us to respond to changing economic circumstances through the department of agriculture question mark >> absolutely. agriculture? >> absolutely. >> i see my time has expired. thank you very much. >> senator franken? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i just want to take a moment to respond to those who say that immigration is such a complex problem that we can't address it with a comprehensive approach. i believe the complexity of this problem and the connectedness of the issues involved in immigration speaks to the need for a comprehensive -- for comprehensive reform. take, for example, border security. i know that border security is critical, and that is why i am very happy to see the strong provisions in this bill are in it.
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but if all you did was secured the border with a 10-foot wall, if there is still a market for undocumented labor, you would create this huge market for 11- foot ladders. so, you need to verify -- you need to be able to verify workers. mr. connor, mr. rodriguez, first of all i want to congratulate you on working with each other. mr. connor, one of the aspects on this bill is the delayed phase-in of the employment verification requirements. aquaculture employers are not required to participate in the e-verify -- agriculture employers are not required to participate in the e-verify program, five years after the passage of the bill.
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it will prove to be very important for farmers in minnesota. lots of our farmers run pretty small operations. it is going to take time for these programs to get up and running. can you, mr. connor, identify why this delayed implementation of e-verify it is important for agriculture? >> a great question, senator franken. i think the important aspects to the heart of the program. that is, we really are creating in many ways -- in some ways, almost three brand-new programs. the blue card program, and then you have the year-round contract part of the guestworker program, and then you have the at-will part of the guestworker program. we know there will be bumps and bruises along implementation. this ensures that for agricultural production, which
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is so important in terms of timeliness, seasonality, that there is going to be a maximum amount of time here before the ee verifies system is kicking and operational. so we can make sure that the three new apparatuses that are working, the caps are being sent in an adequate amount to provide the workers that we need. it gives time. remember, senator franken -- you know this, these are very businesses out there on our american farms and ranches, almost by any standard. more than anything else, we want to make sure these are small
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producers know the program, know what it takes to get the legal workforce here, before we get to enforcing this thing out on every single farm and ranch in america today. i think it is only fair. smallecially for these operations. we need to make sure that the e-verify program has an among the higher accuracy rate than it has now. i am worried that as we introduce millions of immigrants into the system, the error rates tend to get higher when you do that. and when you run a dairy operation and/or other small
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businesses, for that matter, that you don't have a huge hr department like you might at other businesses. and so, i think this is just a very important that we understand how this all fits together and we do it with our eyes wide open. for me, it is absolutely essential that we do it at one time because everything is so interrelated. i am very pleased what this is going to do for the dairy industry. half of all dairy cows in america are milked by immigrant labor. and i've called for this to be fixed for years and i am glad that senator feinstein and senator leahy made their efforts to do that.
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whatur mind, mr. connor, -- in addition to dairy -- and by the way, the chairman said cows are only going to milk you seasonably and they don't like it -- they do not know what they are saying. >> they do in vermont, maybe not minnesota. a i know the chairman is dead head, so no comment -- >> that will come back to haunt you.
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>> sorry, senator. >> at the senator finish his questions? >> i have no idea where it was. jeff, aside from dairy, what are the one or two most helpful aspects of this agreement? >> well, again, senator -- we have a problem in american agriculture today, reflected in the fact that so much of our work force is currently undocumented. for anything else that we have, recognize that the problem exist today. so, the status quo is intolerable. it is across all of the agricultural sector.
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the notion that you are going to give us the ability to actually have a legalized workforce that we know is legal, that we can verify that, farmers and ranchers are some of the most law-abiding people on this planet. they want to have access to those workers. they want them to be legal. and more than anything else, i think fundamentally this bill gives us that ability to be legal. it is huge. because the status quo, again, -- what are the alternatives? i challenge those to suggest that. the current system is broken. we've got to change it.
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>> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i thank the chairman and i thank the witnesses. i just want to thank all of you and senator feinstein for working so hard to get an agreement here. we will work cap informed -- those of us working on the broader agreement, on the progress made and the hurdles you had to overcome, and it is not an easy task. congratulations for working together on this and getting this done. as i mentioned when we launched the broader bill last week, i grew up on a farm. working alongside migrant labor. i know the motivations that they have. i know how difficult it is. and i know that they were here to make a better life for themselves and their families, and for the life of me i have never been able to place all of those who come here across the border, undocumented, in sort of a criminal class. it has never rung true to me that way. and so, i want a solution here. farm work is tough work. i made it off the farm with almost all of my digits. it lost the end of one in an alfalfa field. but i can tell you -- i got them politics largely because of milking cows. you can't tell them, we are not going to milk you today. it does not work and i have tried. it does not work. but i appreciate what you have done here. mr. connor, i appreciate working with you when you were at the usda on other issues, and i appreciate the work you have done. let me just say, in your experience, i know you have been working on a solution for ag for years now. why is that so difficult and why is it important to have this as part of the broader bill and why is it easier as part of a
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comprehensive package or at least possible? i know you have been working on this. why has not -- hasn't it been possible to achieve on its on? >> senator, you are absolutely correct -- this is not a realization that has come about just in the last few months. we have known we've had a problem for a very, very long time. and we have worked with senator feinstein on solving just agricultural's problem for a very long time as well. i would just say that history suggests that that did not work, that the agricultural problem in and of itself probably was not going to produce successful legislation. so, being a part of this comprehensive effort -- again, our negotiations have been limited to just the agricultural piece, but we appreciate the fact that it is part of the broader package. there seems to be some momentum to get something done this year. because we have been talking and proposing solutions, and in some cases, even producing legislation or a very, very long time, because this has been a problem for a long time. we believe 2013 reflects what i
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have described to many as the best chance in a generation to stop talking about it and to finally fix it. >> can you just go on with that? if we failed to reach an agreement here and there is no agreement just with the subset of agriculture, what would the consequences be? how much of our industry do we stand to lose if we can't reach agreement here? >> well, the consequences are substantial, senator. some of those i put in my opening statement. but again, the status quo means
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that a large, large percentage of the american workforce -- doing nothing means a large percentage of the american workforce will continue to be undocumented workers. then, this is untenable to american producer out there, that somehow we cannot get him or her a legal workforce. we do have labor shortages in this country. and it is resulting in crops going unharvested. it is resulting in agricultural production. and i cited the case of the california study of tens of thousands of acres moving to another country. that pattern will continue if we don't fix this problem. >> in the remaining seconds -- some would argue if we don't have a foreign labor force, it simply means more jobs for americans. but how does the lack of a program like this affect u.s. jobs or american worker jobs? >> several have raised this point, and perhaps arturo has a comment, too. i know time is running out. this issue has been studied and looked at exhaustively. senator feinstein has been personally involved in a number
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of effort out there to demonstrate -- are we replacing u.s. jobs here? are there people who would do this but are just not paying enough or something is wrong and therefore we are turning to these foreign workers? it has been proven time and time again, study after study, several cited in my written testimony, that is not the case. they will not do this work. and without this workforce, again, food production will go off sees and crops will be left unharvested in the u.s. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i will note that the outset i regret i was not able to be here at the hearing on friday. i join my colleague senator -- joined my colleague senator cornyn in west, texas, visiting with the victims of that accident and i want to thank my colleagues in the millions of americans will have lifted up the citizens of west to have been suffering through that tragedy, both west, texas, and obviously boston have both in the past week had horrific tragedies, and all of us are lifting up those who lost their lives, their families and loved
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ones, and the many who are injured and suffering. so, i am grateful for the great many prayers for the citizens of west and their suffering. i want to thank each of the three of you for being here today or you're very able testimony and your hard work and commitment to immigration reform -- before your very able testimony. thei want to thank all members of the so-called gang of 8 who have worked very hard on this difficult issue to try to reach a solution to a very difficult problem. and so, i commend the efforts of the four democrats and four republicans who have worked very hard on this. i think there is in or miss agreement in this country that our immigration system right now is broken. i think that is bipartisan agreement. i think it is across the country. i think there are huge challenges.
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i think those challenges are particularly acute in the agricultural area. and i will note, for me, this is an issue that is not simply abstract. i am crowd, a son of an immigrant who came from cuba with nothing and to be a grandson of an echo cultural worker. i grandfather worked in the sugar canes on a plantation in cuba under very difficult circumstances. indeed, i would note -- and i would like to commend the senior senator from california for this very substantive report that she has put together. i think it is very well done. and i think it very effectively tells the story of how the current system is not working. indeed, i made the point of reading the section on taxes -- texas, and what is contained there very much is what i have heard from farmers and ranchers throughout the state. agriculture is critical to my state, as it is to her state,
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and i suspect the state of every member in this committee. i think all of us would like to see a bill that fixes the broken immigration system. and i would suggest -- and my view, the strategy that will be effective to pass a bill is to focus where there is a wide bipartisan agreement. that is how we will actually get a bill passed. and in my judgment, there are two broad areas where there it is bipartisan agreement right now. number one, i think there is bipartisan agreement that we've got to get serious about securing the border. that we need to increase manpower, that we need to increase technology, that we need to fix the problem. in a post 9/11 world i think it does not make sense we do not know the criminal history in the background of those coming in, and i think there is wide agreement that we should fix that, including the problem of visa overstays. i think there is likewise wide bipartisan agreement that we need to improve legal immigration, that we need to streamline it, that we need to reduce the bureaucracy, reduce the red tape, reduce the waiting periods.
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one of the things all three of the witnesses have talked about today are the difficulties h-2a h-2a of the existing h-2a system and having the system work. and one reason we see illegal immigration at the levels we do is because our legal immigration system is not working effectively. and i think we should all be champions of legal immigrants making the system work, and not just welcoming but celebrating illegal immigrants -- legal immigrants. i think if we are going to see an immigration reform bill pass, that should be the focus of the bill. billnk if instead the includes elements that are deeply divisive -- and i would note i do not think there is issue in this entire debate
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that is more divisive than a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally. in my view, any bill that insists upon that jeopardizes the likelihood of passing any immigration reform bill. so, it is my hope that passing a bipartisan bill addressing areas of common agreement -- securing the border, improving legal immigration and making sure we have workers who are here out of the shadows able to work legally, i hope that that reform legislation will not be held hostage to an issue that is deeply, deeply divisive, namely a pathway to citizenship. getmy view, that is how we something done, we focus on areas of agreement, not on areas of disagreement. and i hope that over the course of consideration, we will see some consensus come together to do exactly that.
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thank you. >> thank you, senator cruz. senator graham? >> i will pick up from where my friend from texas -- incentives. having dealt -- consensus. having dealt with this 50,005, i think think we are reaching consensus. the first consent of we reached is the current system is not working. if you are worried about amnesty, that is exactly what we have. we have 11 million people roaming around the with really no way to find out who they are under the current construct. senator cruz is right, if you are trying to access legal labor it is incredibly hard to do. the visas ran out, it is to come located. i think most americans believe the status quo will not work. they want the borders secured. there is consensus. very few people in this country who think border security is not a good thing. and visa control -- 40% of the people here illegally did not come across the border, they
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overstayed their visas. all the hijackers on 9/11 were visa overstays. if boston tells us anything, we need to be aware of who is living among us, whether nativeborn or come in on a visa and become a citizen. we can be threatened by our own people. so, there is a consensus about border security, a consensus the status quo should be be placed. i think there is a consensus about what senatorcruz said, a guest worker -- with this caveat. where senator sessions and i join forces. workert want a foreign commented country and take a take a job from a willing american worker. be only time i want you to able to hire somebody, mr. rodriguez, is when an american worker will not do the job after you advertise at a competitive wage. until you get the system kind of under control, we really don't know.
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why are there almost no nativeborn workers in agriculture? is it because the work is too hard and we have moved on as a people? is it because the wages are too low and most of them are your legal immigrants? we won't know until we get water out of chaos. i think the other thing people have come to rips with -- where senatorcruz and i disagreed -- the 11 million are not going to go away and most people are ok with a pathway to citizenship -- 70% -- if it is earned. if you don't cut in line in front of those who were patient waiting. if, as a condition for staying here, you have to go through a criminal background check, you have to pay a fine. if, as a condition of staying here to become a citizen, you have to learn the language. and hold a job. and we are talking about a 10- year minimum before you can even apply for a green card. and the conditions on the
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pathway to citizenship are you have to learn the language, you have to pay a fine for the crime he committed, you have to go to a criminal background check and keep a job. i think most americans would say that is a practical solution. and most americans like me do not want to deal with this 20 years from now. and my goal is to in this debate and get it right. we did not get it right in 1986. when it comes to the agricultural community, mr. connors, do you believe most people working in agriculture are noncitizens? re: illegal immigrants? >> senator graham, i believe statistics to verify that the numbers are somewhere between 60% to 70% of the agricultural workforce are undocumented. >> why is that? mr. rodriguez, do you agree with that?
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>> yes, sir. >> why is that? >> i think you pointed out some of the reasons. you set the current systems that are in place are not -- >> employers cannot get enough legal labor because there are limits on the visas and it is complicated and expensive. you agree with that? >> yes. >> everybody said yes. and it appears that meatpacking, poultry, agriculture, some of these more labor-intensive jobs, that it is hard to find labor in this country? do you agree with that? >> well, senator, let me just respond. i am not here representing the meatpacking industry but the six categories, if you will, of agricultural workers out there and there is no question i wholeheartedly agree with that payment, that you cannot get americans to do this work. >> here is the question. if you pay them $40 an hour, you probably could, but nobody would be left in american agriculture -- they would go to mexico. you have to find a way, in my view, to replace our agricultural workforce to 60%-
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70% your legal and everybody should be legal. no benefits our economy having a bunch of illegal workers in any part of the economy dominate from that part of our economy. what i think we have done in this bill we try to strike a balance, senator rubio and feinstein, in my view, have done a good job, to be placed the illegal workforce with a legal workforce good one last thought -- just indulge me for a second. this pathway to citizenship has three triggers. there has to be a border security strategy created by homeland security before the pathway to citizenship can be fully implemented. you have to have e-verify up and running. and you have to have enter and exit control visas before people can transition from temporary legal status to get a green card. i think those three triggers make sense. if this committee can make those triggers more effect if,
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if senator cornyn can help us on the exit visa system, count me in. securean find ways to the border better, count me in. at the end of the day, i want to make sure we not have a third wave. and getting the agriculture part right, 60%-70% workers in agriculture illegal, seems to be a good place to start. i would like to compliment the authors of this part of the bill, say you have done a good job in late -- let's make it better, if we can. >> thank you. that's it. i want to thank -- >> i know -- i have been whether chairman has been, as chairman of the committee and we have to move on. but i do want the record to show that we were hoping to have a second round, so we will submit our questions for answers in writing.
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>> i appreciate that. i am looking at the number of witnesses would have today. it is going to take some time. of course, we will have another panel tomorrow with the head of homeland security. i want to thank mr. rodriguez, mr. connor, ms. eastman, for being here. ach one of you have been very, very helpful in putting this together. created in 1979. >> on c-span tonight, first ladies and plans and image features mary todd lincoln, wife of abraham linco